Tag: leadership

Building, serving and scaling high performing engineering teams as part of your strategy

The world wide web is the most important global platform in our age. Digital disruption is everywhere regardless of the industry. It is happening in communication, entertainment, transportation, education, agriculture, healthcare to just name a few. Therefore a good business strategy must include a well thought digital strategy. Whether your business sells PAAS or SAAS you must have a way of building, running and scaling your product. There are many ways of dealing with software development from resourcing and structuring perspective: world wide distributed teams to outscoring the whole or keeping it partially or entirely in house. In this article I am intended to discuss the latter case.

When you keep your development in house the goal is to build and scale high performing engineering teams those not only cover its cost but bring value and eventually revenue in to the business one way or another – think of a business that uses digital as part of the overall strategy like a bank that has a bespoke online banking platform or as a second example think of Uber that can not be exist without its digital platform as that is its core.

Problems in crafting softwares most often can be caught in either lack of quality, lack of essential communication or in a less lucky case even in both. The answer can be this: Creating a high performing engineering team that balances out quality and delivery.

How to build and scale high performing engineering teams? Is there a model of some sort that we can apply? Within this article I would like to show one model that has no secrets or any unknown or untold elements. Yet I believe this is an art and there is no recipe. It is an art – probably easier to write about it then to evaluate it. Since I am writing from my experience I am sure it is possible.

Foremost I am going to be slightly more technical in the wording from now on. I created a list of the most important things to have and to actively practice.

  • Leadership
  • Test driven development
  • Collaboration and pairing
  • Continuous integration and delivery
  • Communication and ceremonies

In this part I attempt to discuss the very first point: The engineering lead. The right person can create the right engineering culture. Provides great help with operations from selection and recruitment to mentoring, educating individuals and also participates the evaluation of your digital strategy. This person is key to your success so let’s have a closer look of the most important skills to meet.

Servant leader

First and foremost the servant leader is not powerless at all, however, this type of leader uses its power to help others to grow. The servant leader is not the source of the power but a mediator. It has clear requirements and goals for every individual in the team. It helps to create a plan for the team members to overcome certain obstacles and grow to the next level whereas also helps other players to be great leaders through delegating part of his own duties to them. This type of engineering lead always stays close to the team and aware. How can one stay close to its team? Although the engineering lead has to wear many hats can sometimes fork in to actual work through pair programming and should always have time for regular and even occasional one to ones.


The leader who aware on both personal and technical level has its way using certain tools and techniques to measure the current progress, finding obstacles and spot issues early as possible. Sometimes this can be simple as asking around to see who aware of what is being done what is missing and what is left to be done? Also there are tools like JIRA and many other softwares to monitor and keep track of progress.


The right leader is always present and approachable – stays close to the “battlefield”. Also the right leader can communicate on different levels such as senior management, customer or even at stakeholder level.

Good sense of humour

The good sense of humour is very important. Being open, ready to admit any (even personal) failures and being able to laugh can help to create a great and transparent culture. On the flip side being late to be judgmental never making jokes of someone’s faults or personality/disability/disadvantage is crucial.


Understanding the root of a problem, helping the team to grow and earning some respect all requires strong knowledge. The leader of the team might not be the master of all topics, however, it can be a specialist on a certain subject e.g continuous delivery pipelines and can provide useful insight. Alternatively it can be a generalist who has certain methodology to learn and prototype fast to find the best possible way around a technical challenge – creating a good example and leading by an example. The person also has to speak the language of the team even if it is highly technical in some case.


Making a positive impact on the team and its members as well as with in the organization is the purpose and the ultimate goal. Helping the team to deliver and grow is a great achievement. Looking ahead and being a step ahead can also make a good impact on the long run. In the end of the day once everything has delegated and the team is up to speed with smooth delivery (it often can take even a year) then the next step is definitely looking ahead for the future challenges that the team might have to face and making preparations to stay in the competition in our digital age.

The good leader is open, knowledgeable, passionate, helpful, transparent and approachable but most importantly creates other leaders through mentorship and delegation.

To be continued.


Periodic table of the modern software development

React App (1)

I spent some time over the weekend to ellaborate on what sort of tools we can use to fix delivery issues or even what tools we can use to set up a good project. This is part of my research on what makes one a great leader in software development. What makes a team great, agile, pragmatic yet flexible?

I cloned the Create React App repo and some other tools (Redux etc.) and put together a mini project to collect all the tools, skill set and methods that possibly or rather very likely we need to use in order to create value.

The elements in the periodic table are not exhaustive and I am looking to add more terms in the following weeks or months.


Who is the technical director and what does he/she do?

Technical director (TD) is an interesting role. According to Wikipedia the role itself stems from the television/movie industry but you can find it in gaming and also software development. People quiet often confusing it with other roles like CTO or Head of engineering perhaps Lead engineer. Sometimes it is okay to blend roles although I think the best is to keep them separate as much as possible.

What are the responsibilites of a Technical director (in software development)?

  • Cost analysis and budgeting.
  • Identyfing problems and grey areas.
  • Forecasting potential bottlenecks.
  • Help with technical hiring.
  • Technical prototyping.
  • Discovering 3rd parties, softwares and technologies.
  • Negotiating with 3rd parties.
  • Liasing with the architects and technical leads.

What should not be in the responsibility of the TD?

  • Managing the development team on a personal level.
  • Writing code on a daily basis.
  • Micro managing anyone (should not happen at all).
  • Getting lost in project details and daily delivery issues (You have scrum master, right?).

Besides all above it is possible to be flexible with this role and writing some code every now and then or even stepping in the shoes of a delivery manager perhaps a scrum master but it is not ideal unless it lasts for an interim short period until hiring happened.

This role can be key to your success and delivery to ensure you do not run out of budget, make the right hirings and arrange the right technology. I wouls also suggest to have one TD per project/key client instead of assigning multiple projects to one TD. Finally, keep things separate and do not blend this role with Head of…

I also believe that the role of TD is complex and cross discipline. The person who looking to fulfill such a role should have a strong background in hands on software development (ideally full stack) and years of experience of delivering software and not to mention a grasp of budgeting around software/cloud. It should also have very good range of analytical skills and firm communcation skillset to face stakeholders and customers (non IT savvy mostly) when needed.

Are you looking for someone to fill the Technical director role described above? Hire me.

If you are not sure what should you expect from your Lead developer then continue reading here.


CTO fail: common mistakes

What makes you a good CTO? What makes you a bad CTO? I have seen examples of both and I’d like to share these adding my own insight with a little hope that I can change the world.